Alcohol, marijuana, and opiates are often drugs that teens turn to in high school. Some are now choosing to inhale toxic household products they can easily obtain such as computer air dusters, gasoline, butane, Freon, paint thinner, glues, whipped cream, and anything else in an aerosol can. This is called “huffing”. Some youths first use inhalants when they are around 11 or 12. For some, it is the first or second drug kids try (even before alcohol or cigarettes). About 2.6 million children ages 12 to 17 uses an inhalant each year to get high.
Huffing occurs when sprays are put into a plastic bag and inhaled, a rag or sock is soaked in the chemical and then the vapors are inhaled, or vapors are inhaled directly out of the container. The fumes end up cutting off oxygen to the brain, producing a high. Lack of oxygen and cardiac arrest are the leading causes of sudden death from huffing.
In a 2011 study, 11% of US teens said they had used inhalants in their lifetime. In Massachusetts 5% of high school students reported using inhalants in the past 30 days. This method of drug use is a problem because these chemicals are readily available in homes and stores and are not illegal to sell or possess.